“The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” pretty well describes my life with a pituitary adenoma – more specifically a prolactinoma. In Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella of 1886, Mr Hyde grows so strong that Dr Jekyll becomes reliant on the potion to remain himself. My tumor is an insidiously slow growing one that, like Mr Hyde, creeps into your life to take over. I rely on my daily potions keeping Mr Hyde at bay.
I don’t know when the adenoma started. In 1994, I completed an Olympic length triathlon and in 1995 finished the Hamilton Around the Bay Road Race. Soon after, I found that I couldn’t recover from workouts anymore. I hurt all the time and was grumpy.
It was discovered that I had a para-thyroid tumor. It was removed in 1998 yet I did not feel fully recovered. I pushed my endocrinologist for more tests. He was baffled at the conflicting blood test results – low testosterone, high prolactin, low thyroid.
I moved to Ottawa in 1999 and was referred to the Montreal Royal Vic Hospital. They determined I had a prolactinoma and started me on bromocriptine to reduce it. We don’t know how big it was exactly since no MRI was done. But I know Mr Hyde was very present. This was just the start of my many recipes of drugs to bring Dr Jekyll back.
Aside from the physical ugliness that out-of-whack hormones can do, my emotional and mental states were all over the place. I suffered job losses because of it. My loving wife and kids took the brunt of my behavior and mood swings. I want to pause here and acknowledge with all my heart, the ongoing strength and love of my dearest Sweetheart – without whom I could not have made it through. She was with me at my darkest Mr Hyde times.
I am grateful for new drugs and technologies for they have brought back Dr Jekyll. The drugs keep the tumor reduced and my hormone levels in ‘normal’ range. ‘Normal’ is an exhilarating word to hear after a blood test.
I must remain constantly vigilant of Mr Hyde. Two years ago, I needed to start hydrocortisone treatment since My Hyde decided to stop producing it. Before, I hurt and felt tired. This time, with adrenal insufficiency, I really felt like I was dying. Happily, my new endocrinologist has got everything in check (for) now.
Dr Jekyll killed himself in a desperate act. “I bring the life of that unhappy Henry Jekyll to an end” is how the book ends. Living with Mr Hyde is not easy. It requires huge amounts of courage and hope. Not living is an option I reject. This Dr Jekyll really likes his Sweetheart… and wants to be with her for a long long time for an ending of…happily ever after.